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The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag


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About the Author

Edward Field's poetry collections include the Lamont Award-winning Stand Up, Friend, With Me; Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems, 1963-1992, which won a Lambda Literary Award; and A Frieze for a Temple of Love. Field is the editor of Alfred Chester Newsletter, and with his partner, Neil Derrick, is coauthor of the novel The Villagers. Field received a Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He lives in New York City.


Poet Field has been in the midst of Greenwich Village's bohemian life since 1946, when he moved there, fresh from the armed forces, at the age of 22. These 25 short essays and sketches ramble nicely over the years and through his friendships to form a memoir that is more nostalgic than intellectually vigorous. The thread that connects most of these chatty stories is Field's close relationship with the enigmatic, unstable Alfred Chester, a writer of elegant, rarefied fiction who throughout his life and after his death in 1971 has maintained a cult status as a writer's writer. It's Chester, with his intense relationships with Cynthia Ozick, Harriet Sohmers and Susan Sontag-whom he, possibly skirting a mental breakdown, had decided to marry even though he was a homosexual-who takes up the emotional bulk of Field's memoir and whose vivid image lingers. While Field write of his own career, it is always modestly. At times elusively vague but often very charming, this volume will be of serious interest to anyone intrigued by New York literary life of the 1950s and '60s. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

The book is entertaining, offering gossipy anecdotes about a range of colorful gay writers, including Alfred Chester (who never really wanted to marry Susan Sontag), Robert Friend, May Swenson, and Arthur Gregor. These disparate recountings hang together because Field's sensibility - candid, perceptive, self-deprecatory - unifies them. This is a fun book that recalls an important era of American literary history. - G. Grieve-Carlson, Choice ""Of serious interest to anyone intrigued by New York literary life of the 1950s and '60s."" - Publishers Weekly

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